By CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – Local officials have identified the men involved in a boat capsizing in the Mississippi River on Tuesday at around 2 p.m.
According to Steve Cirinna, Lee County Emergency Management Agency Coordinator, Bill White Sr., 68 of Argyle, and Ron Wagner, 48, of Montrose were in a boat fishing when their boat capsized in the water.
Cirinna, who also serves as the Lee County Public Information officer, said the search has been called off at this point pending further developments. He’s asking anyone who spots anything associated with the incident to call 911.
“I’ve spoken with state weather officials and it’s not going to get above 20 degrees for the next couple of days or so. The big issue right now is the ice on the river and high winds. Because of the ice and low temperatures it’s very difficult to get anyone out. That’s what we had trouble with here. It’s tough for us to get out.”
He said this morning’s search consisted of emergency crews working the shoreline between Montrose and Keokuk on both sides of the river and an Iowa State Patrol flying low level grids over the river.
“We saw absolutely nothing. No debris…nothing. And we’re not going to be able to put a boat in due to the large sheets of ice coming down the river. That just presents some dangerous situations.”
Cirinna also discouraged anyone from being on the river during these weather conditions and said encouraged diligence and adherence to water safety.
“When you’re out on the water anytime, you should be wearing a life jacket. Something could go wrong in an instant. With a boat capsizing, you hit cold water and you’re disoriented and have lots of things to deal with, especially in the cold, but even in warmer waters you just don’t have time to react,” Cirinna said Wednesday morning.
He said an average body would have about 15 minutes to get to safety in waters as cold as the Mississippi is now.
Assisting in the search efforts were the Iowa State Patrol, Lee County Sheriff’s Department, Keokuk Volunteer Emergency Core, Keokuk Fire, Montrose Fire. Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Department of Transportation Enforcement, Burlington Northern-Sante Fe Railroad, Air Evac, Lee County EMS, Illinois DNR, Nauvoo Fire Department, Hancock County Sheriff’s Department, Hancock Emergency Disaster Services, and LCEMA, in addition to many private individuals and groups.